By: Dorothy C. Handfield the CEO/Owner of DCH Consulting Services, LLC. As a Career Consultant/Coach
I assist highly qualified candidates get their dream job and keep it.
When I was in my early thirties, I was promoted to a leadership position. It was an exciting time in my professional career. I was eager to accept the challenge of being a leader. I was assigned the task of supervising approximately twenty staff members, who ranged in age from my peers to my seniors who were twice my age. Many of the staff members had years of experience that surpassed my years of service. Despite, my excitement, my age made me question if I was ready for the leadership position.
Similar to my experience, millenniums are entering leadership roles in the workplace and are faced with the charge of managing staff members who are their seniors. The key answer to this dilemma is to address the soft skills needed to manage people. Far too often, young leaders spend a tremendous amount time focusing on the skills needed to excel within their particular industry but lack the soft skills that are also necessary in becoming a strong leader. However, I used the following tips to assist me during my early years:
- Be respectful. Respect the knowledge base of your staff members. Do not assume that your degrees and/or education entitle you to discount the abilities of others. Treat your staff members as you want to be treated.
- Learn to be an active listener. Listen to the concerns and/or ideas of your staff. Never create a work environment that stifles the voice of staff members because of the overbearing, controlling leadership style of management. When there is a work environment that leads to open-dialogue, you can learn from your staff and, your staff can learn from you.
- Build a relationship with your staff members. This does not mean become friends with your staff members. Never mixed your personal life with your professional live. However, you can learn your staff members’ areas of strengths and areas of need by spending time with your staff. Come out of your office and walk around. Be approachable. Knowing more about your staff members’ abilities allows you as a leader to help develop your staff members’ careers. And, acknowledge events that occur within your staff members’ lives: i.e. birthdays, anniversaries and/or births.
- Find a mentor. Ask a seasoned leader to be your mentor. A mentor-mentee relationship can allow you to grow professionally because you are networking with another leader who has experience and can provide guidance.
My years as a young leader was momentous. I experienced many learning curves. But, the continuous use these valuable and effective tips allowed me to survive.